It's a problem more disruptive and costly than employees missing work: It's presenteeism—contagiously sick employees showing
up for work.
Employees who think they're doing their employers a favor should think twice about showing up for work when they really aren't
up to the task. Reason No. 1: Productivity drops when employees come to work but perform below-par because of illness. Reason
No. 2: Contagious employees frequently infect coworkers, not to mention clients. Coworkers wind up seeing the sickie coughing,
sneezing, and profusely sweating, responding, "I'm fine," when people ask.
According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, 56 percent of employers report that "presenteeism" is a problem in their
organization, up from 39 percent two years earlier. The reasons that sick employees push themselves to go to work are varied.
Dedicated employees don't want to let their employer or co-workers down; they know how important they are to the smooth functioning
of the practice. Others are concerned about losing a day's pay (especially those with no paid sick days) or missing out on
incentive programs that encourage perfect attendance. Some want to avoid the guilt trip that some employers lay on about calling
Action steps: A 2005 Commerce Clearing House survey asked employers what they're doing to reduce "presenteeism." Sixty-two
percent of responding organizations said they send sick employees home. Forty-one percent educate employees on the importance
of staying home when sick, and 36 percent try to foster a culture that discourages sick employees from coming to work.
These policies result in a veterinary practice, especially a small one, being understaffed and shorthanded. Cross training
is one workable solution. If your team is cross-trained, you can quickly plug critical gaps without calling in temporary workers,
running up your overtime costs, or stinting on client services.